#3 - A Day in Dunedin
Ummmm, now where was I? Right! On our way out to the Otago Peninsula.
Through the city center of Dunedin - an octagon which includes a chess board on the grounds with chessmen about 3 feet high -- and we're on our way. Must make a note here. Traveling here can be a bit confusing at times. There is a habit of changing street names two or three times [found one that changes 5 times!] and the maps aren't marked as to where the change takes place, so often you don't know just what street you're looking for. Does keep you on your toes though.
It's a great day for exploring. The skies are blue and dotted with the ever present clouds, all white today. The harbour is on our left, calm and deep blue. Soon we arrive at our first destination - the Glenfallock Woodland Garden. While we did enjoy our tramp, I think this is really a springtime garden. Primarily azaleas, rhododendrons, and fuchsias, very little was in bloom. We only spent about 40 minutes before taking off for Larnach Castle - the only castle in New Zealand.
A small castle, by English standards, construction on Larnach Castle was begun in 1871. 200 workmen spent 5 years before the family was able to move in. It was finished in 1887. The woodwork is incredible. Unfortunately very few of the original furnishings are still there, but the current owners are restoring it beautifully with period pieces. You can't believe the carving that went into some of the ceilings. And the view is beyond belief. Just wait until you see some of our pics. A group of Scots were visiting at the time and several of the men were in kilts, looking very much at home. A bagpiper was the absolute cherry on top. Standing inside the castle listening to him play the years just fell away. After wandering through the gardens a bit we were on our way again.
This time to the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve. Our guide was Yosh, a very attractive and a very knowledgeable local gal. The only others on our tour turned out to be 3 people we'd seen at the restaurant the night before. Quite nice and friendly. The son is going to school in Auckland. Now the reserve is quite dedicated to aiding this shy small penguin so after being driven from the center to the reserve most of our time was spent in hidden access tunnels. Looking down from the hills, the landscape reminded me of the beginning scenes of MASH. All these hidden tunnels criss-crossing everywhere. But we were able to get very close to the penguins this way and they are the most adorable animals you'd ever want to see. A couple of ponds have been provided and about 3 dozen nesting homes built - which the penguins seem to appreciate. But what was really strange to see were their reserve-mates - sheep! LOL LOL Yup, more sheep. Who'd have thought about penguins and sheep sharing a home. Not me. One little penguin was taking a snooze, lifting his head and yawning every once in a while, when he caught the attention of a sheep and we watch quite a confrontation. Laughed till the tears ran. The sheep watched the penguin for quite a while then moved in close for a sniff. The penguin didn't take kindly to that one little bit. He turned and started flapping his wings and pecking at the sheep, which backed off quickly. The sheep tried to sniff out the penguin again, with the same results. After the third time he finally turned and wandered away. What a sight! No one ever said sheep were smart. LOL LOL
By now it's almost 4:30 and we've spent hours and hours walking. I don't think I'd have been able to do this without all the months and months of aqua therapy and bike riding - in fact, I know I couldn't have done it. But I'm tired, so we decided to give the Royal Albatross Centre a miss and head back to town for dinner and an early night.
We stopped at the Lone Star Cafe on our way back to the motel. Good food and lots of it - and the strangest Texan accent you've ever heard. About 20 minutes after we sat down, who walks in but our tour mates. They came over and we chatted for a while about the tour and New Zealand in general. Nice people.
I've yakked more than normal about this day so I'd better close before you start yawning.
Tomorrow we head for Bluff, the southern most city in the world, via the scenic southern route.